Video Games Seen becoming a new Frontier in Digital Rights

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Article content By Avi Asher-Schapiro

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation), July 30, 2018 - Video games are becoming an "new political platform" as critical digital rights battles over privacy and anonymity are being fought, experts and insiders declared on Thursday.

Video games are seen as an exciting new frontier in digital rights Back to video

With the industry set to double its annual revenue to $300 billion by 2025. Questions about how video game operators, designers and governments handle sensitive issues gain urgency, according to participants at RightsCon which is a virtual conference on digital rights.

Article content

Article content In the last few months, a Hong Kong activist staged a protest against Beijing's rule inside the game of social simulation known as Animal Crossing, and a member of the U.S. Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, campaigned in the game too.

The game Minecraft, meanwhile, has been used to circumvent censorship with groups using it to build digital libraries and to smuggle banned materials into oppressive countries.

"Video games have become this new political arena," said Micaela Mantegna who is the founder of GeekyLegal GeekyLegal, an Argentinian organization that focuses on the tech policy.

Game designers have also been dealing with sensitive topics through games that deal with issues like mental illness or refugees.

"Video games are a powerful way to get people talking about subjects that are difficult to discuss in real life," said Stephanie Zucarelli who is a board member for Women in Games Argentina, an organization that is not for profit.

Article content Rights of the user can be at risk of being violated, said Kurt Opsah, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group.

Law enforcement can ask game companies their personal information about users, operating companies can restrict gaming users, and governments can force game makers and operators to take down content, he said.

He gave an example of how the U.S. military removed critical remarks posted on Twitch's recruiting channels.

"They did not want people to be anti-military on their recruiting channel," he said.

Governments can put pressure on video game companies, he added, such as the case of Activision Blizzard Entertainment that last year banned one player from a video game competition for making political comments about Hong Kong in an interview.

Tencent Holdings, a Chinese gaming giant, partly owns Blizzard.

(Reporting by Avi Asher-Schapiro. Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Thomson Reuters Foundation, Thomson Reuters' charitable arm is to be credited. It examines the lives and struggles of those across the globe who are unable to live free or with dignity. Alusky's blog Visit

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